By Kate Arnold
Travelling is hella expensive and, if you’re like me, you’re probably on a pretty tight budget. Here’s what I do when I’m travelling to stay on budget.
Work Out Your Daily Spend Average
Do some maths before you arrive. Say you have $5000 and you’re travelling for 21 day. You have $238 to spend each day, on average. Assuming you’ve already paid for all of your accommodation, internal travel and big ticket items such as theme park tickets and shows, this should be plenty. Remember to convert this amount into the currency of the place that you are visiting. $238 Australian dollars is $168.82 USD and £132.81 GBP and S/567.15 Peruvian sol.
Write Down Everything You Buy
This may sound like a pain but it really helps to see where you’re spending your money and where it is a waste and where it brings you joy. I keep a running list of every time I spend money in my notes app on my phone and total it up and the end of each day. I’ll even put an emoji next to the purchase so that I can see at a glance what was worth my money and what wasn’t. Writing down every single purchase you make will also make you think twice about the things you buy. Do you really need that foam Statue of Liberty crown? Do you really want a tiny model of the Empire State Building? Questioning these little purchases will save you more money than you realise. Here’s what a day of spending in New York looked like for me:
Eating out is a huge part of experiencing a new culture and one of the best parts of travelling, but if you’re eating out for every meal then you’re going to be paying a huge amount on food. When I first arrive in a city, the first thing I do (after checking in a my accomodation and having a shower) is to locate a supermarket. I’ll buy things like a packet of croissants that I can eat for breakfast, deli salads that I can take with me and have for lunch when I’m out and about and snacks like muesli bars and fruit that will tide me over between meals.
Search for Discounts and Deals
When I travel and there are some big ticket things that I want to do (theme parks, musical tickets, experiences) I look for the best deals that I can get before I go and where possible I buy them in advance. Not having to worry about saving my money for Hamilton tickets or my trip to Hobbiton, Universal Studios and Disney World was a huge weight of my mind while I was travelling. Check out my article How To Save Money on Broadway Tickets, which does what it says on the tin.
Use Public Transport
I always use the public transport systems as much as I can. It’s so much cheaper to use than taking taxis or Ubers and it makes me feel like I’m experiencing a city in an authentic way. Check out Laura’s Guide to the New York Subway System and my Guide to the London Underground.
Stay in Hostels
I will always opt to stay in a hostel over a hotel because it saves me tonnes of money. Some have not been super flashy. Some have had snoring dorm mates. Some have not had very comfortable beds. But when I’m travelling I don’t want to spend a lot of time in my accommodation, I want to be out, seeing the city. Some of the best hostels I’ve stayed in were The Freehand in Chicago and St Christopher’s Inn in Paris, which were both very clean and comfortable and close to great attractions, public transport and great restaurants. If you’re staying in New York check out Laura’s article Budget Friendly tips for New York Accomodation.
These days when I go away I don’t do much shopping but before I go away I think about a few things that I really want to buy as a memory of my trip but also as something that I will love and use for years to come. No Eiffel Tower key chains, no Statue of Liberty fridge magnets here. When I went to New York I really wanted to go to The Strand and buy a book there, I decided on a few titles that I wanted to buy if I saw them there and I walked out with Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. You might decide that you want to buy a new bag or piece of jewellery and make it your mission to find the perfect one for you. It will mean so much more to you than a cheap tourist souvenir and it will keep you from mindlessly shopping if you have a list of a few things that you really want.
Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing having a good time or staying a dodgy place or eating two minute noodles and microwave pizzas. Budgeting while travelling is all about knowing exactly where you spend your money and getting the most enjoyment out of the things you buy.